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By Nick Gray
UK volleyball celebrated the careers of three seniors with a 3-1 win over Georgia (25-19, 18-25, 25-14, 25-17) on Senior Day Sunday with 1,404 people watching on at Memorial Coliseum.
A total team effort pushed the Cats (18-10, 12-6 SEC) to victory. Junior Whitney Billings hit 13 kills with 16 digs while sophomore Lauren O’Connor hit for 14 kills, leading UK offensively. Junior Alexandra Morgan had a career-high (and team season-high) 10 blocks along with nine kills.
“It was a good win and we played really well for three sets,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Georgia (13-15, 7-11 SEC) played really well in set two. I like the way we responded. We put some serving pressure on them to help setup our blocking defense. We just needed to execute better. We changed our serving strategy up a bit and started going down the line. I think that helped us get more involved with our blocking and our defense.”
Each senior also produced for the Cats. Senior setter Christine Hartmann dished out 45 assists to go along with two kills and 13 digs. Senior libero Stephanie Klefot led UK with 19 digs, while senior Ashley Frazier earned nine kills.
“Defense has been one thing throughout my career I’ve struggled with here and there,” Hartmann said. “So to be able to get double figures in that, as well as keep up with assists and helping my team in other ways than just being a setter, is great.”
The first two sets were opposites for each team. In the first, UK hit for 18 kills in the 25-19 win while Georgia earned only nine. The second set flipped the script, with Georgia hitting for 15 kills while the Cats hitting for just 10 kills as the Bulldogs took the second set 25-18.
After the break, UK turned up the play on both sides of the ball. UK earned 15 kills in each set while limiting Georgia to 9 and 11 kills respectively. The Bulldogs failed to lead in the match after taking an early 1-0 lead in set three.
The Bulldogs only hit .118 overall on the attack and were forced into 26 errors by the Cats’ defense.
UK concludes their season with two road games next week. The Cats will travel to Columbia, Mo., to face Missouri Wednesday at 8 p.m. and then will travel to Auburn for a 4 p.m. game on Friday.